The Iglesia Evangélica Menonita de Chile (IEMCH; English: Evangelical Mennonite Church of Chile) was one of several independent Anabaptist-Mennonite groups in Chile that came into being mostly as "native" initiatives. Jorge Vallejos Sr., an expatriate Chilean church planter in Canada who related to the Northwest Mennonite Conference, had helped in the formation of the earlier Iglesia Evangélica Menonita, Chile. Vallejos provided coaching for the new group from his base in Edmonton, Alberta. IEMCH churches emerged in poverty-ridden areas in and around Santiago, Chile. Their ministry was a combination of social work and evangelism targeted at relieving poverty, training young people vocationally, battling the drug culture and working at rehabilitating its victims.
The IEMCH embraced its Mennonite identity in 1989 and received official government recognition the following year. In its first decades IEMCH often felt isolated from the larger Anabaptist-Mennonite community. Their desire for more connection to the wider Mennonite world family was awakened by short-term visits from Mennonite teachers and mission administrators, their increasing involvement in the biennial gatherings of Mennonites from the Southern Cone (Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile) and the 2009 Mennonite World Conference Assembly 15 in Paraguay. One connection came via visits of Titus Guenther, a professor at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba who during the 1990s and later taught at the Comunidad Teológica Evangélica de Chile (Evangelical Faculty of Theology of Chile) and made connections with Anabaptist groups. There were also ongoing links with Hispanic Mennonite leaders based in the Northwest Mennonite Conference.
The IEMCH congregations have regularly conducted active nurture and outreach ministries. Worship services have taken place in the evenings, while Sunday schools for their own and neighbourhood children have been held in the morning and included breakfast, singing and Bible lessons, concluding with lunch before releasing them. The street preaching of these congregations, beside proclaiming God's word, has included "serving coffee and sandwiches to the homeless." In 2011 the conference was accepted as the 100th member of Mennonite World Conference. It had 14 congregations (including a few in Argentina and Uruguay) with approximately 1200 members.
Allen, Krista. "Anabaptism a growing edge in Chile." Mennonite Church Canada release. January 2007. Web. 14 January 2012. http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/news/releases/2007/02/Release01.htm.
Guenther, Titus. "Fighting with Lions." Mennonite World Conference. 23 September 2011. Web. 14 January 2012. http://www.mwc-cmm.org/index.php/news-releases/120-fighting-with-lions.
Guenther, Titus. "Mennonite World Conference's 100th member: Chilean churches rooted in ministry among the poor." Mennonite Weekly Review. (3 October 2011). Web. 14 January 2012. http://www.mennoweekly.org/2011/10/3/mennonite-world-conferences-100th-member/.
Regehr, T. D. Faith, Life and Witness in the Northwest, 1903-2003: Centennial History of the Northwest Mennonite Conference. Kitchener, Ont. : Pandora Press, 2003: see Index for "Chile" and "Vallejos."
Roth, John D. "Chilean Mennonites enrich the fold." TheMennonite (January 2012): 9. Web. 14 January 2012. http://www.themennonite.org/issues/15-1/articles/Chilean_Mennonites_enrich_the_fold.
|Date Published||January 2012|
Cite This Article
Steiner, Sam. "Iglesia Evangélica Menonita de Chile." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2012. Web. 21 Apr 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iglesia_Evang%C3%A9lica_Menonita_de_Chile&oldid=82365.
Steiner, Sam. (January 2012). Iglesia Evangélica Menonita de Chile. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 April 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iglesia_Evang%C3%A9lica_Menonita_de_Chile&oldid=82365.
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